News OE2C

OE2C Savings Fund New University Fellowships

The nature and character of religious communities in the American Midwest hold a special attraction for Andrew Klumpp, Ph.D. student in religious studies in Dedman College. He wants to know if religious groups in this region helped to form a distinct Midwestern culture and how Midwestern religious roots helped shape the ideologies, policies and careers of national figures who hail from the heartland of America.

Klumpp is one of 12 SMU doctoral students who received the first University Ph.D. Fellowships created from funds that were saved through the OE2C (Operational Excellence for the Second Century) project in 2015. OE2C aims to secure the long-term economic vitality of SMU through operational improvements and savings that are applied to its academic mission. Starting with $150,000 for the program’s first year, graduate fellowships up to $10,000 were awarded in spring 2015 to 12 high-achieving students in a variety of SMU’s 22 doctoral programs. The Ph.D. Fellowship program will support eight additional Ph.D. fellows, who will join SMU in the fall. OE2C has captured $15.1 million in savings to date, with $13.8 million applied toward the academic mission.

Among numerous benefits reaped from SMU’s fellowship funding, not having to take jobs to make ends meet was foremost for Klumpp. “During the first year of my program, I presented a historical exhibit featuring my work at Duke University, gave a scholarly paper at a regional meeting, co-authored a chapter in an upcoming book on religion and U.S. politics, and contributed articles to journals in my field. Many of these opportunities were the result of having the financial security necessary to devote time and resources to my own travel, research and writing,” he says.

For Asiel Sepúlveda, doctoral student in the rhetorics of art, space and culture program in art history, the fellowship funds enabled him to participate in a printmaking workshop hosted by the Association of Print Scholars at the Rhode Island School of Design. “My interests include 19th-century visual culture, commercial advertising and urban studies with an emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean. This workshop provided me with a unique opportunity to operate a lithographic press so that I could fully understand the processes and techniques used by lithographic printers in the 19th century,” he says.

The research fellowship also supported archival work for Grace Vargas, a historian of global Christianity in religious studies, and allowed her to network with other scholars beyond her discipline. Vargas’ doctoral research centers on a postcolonial and critical analysis of U.S. Protestant missions in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century. “Most of the historiography on these missions focuses on the influence and contributions of U.S. missionaries to the island. I am interested in widening the lens to show Cuban influence on, and contributions to, this enterprise,” she says.

According to Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies James Quick, increasing the number of Ph.D. students will provide benefits to the University as a whole. “These are outstanding students poised to make significant contributions to their fields, and we are proud to have them join the SMU community. Outstanding graduate students add to the educational experience of SMU’s undergraduates and serve as role models. A key part of the continued growth and development of SMU’s graduate programs is bringing these top students to the University, and their presence will have a positive impact in their departments and beyond.”

The SMU Faculty Senate, in its resolution of December 4, 2013, urged SMU to create University-wide fellowships for doctoral students, saying they “play a crucial role in engaging and interfacing with undergraduate students in faculty research projects that in turn helps us recruit high-quality undergraduates and raise the academic quality of the incoming class … and … [that] doctoral students are the future leaders of research, innovation and scientific progress, of creative enterprise and arts, and of great scholarship, all of which are some of the longest lasting contributions and legacies that SMU can make to the local economy and community. …”

In addition to the creation and awarding of the University-wide fellowships, initiatives undertaken over the past year and a half have offered other new academic opportunities. For example, using reallocated funds, the University has provided increased, round-the-clock access to ManeFrame, one of the most powerful, high-performance computers in the United States, enabling large-scale research opportunities for SMU faculty and students.


OIT Shared Services Welcomes New Academic Technology Governance Council

16427218117_5abecbb0aa_zTo ensure that technology services are more effectively aligned throughout the University and to enable the faculty and academic areas to participate directly in providing strategic direction in technology decision-making for campus, OIT Shared Services has facilitated the creation and launch of an entirely new Academic Technology Council for IT governance at SMU.

The new council is comprised of 14 members, including faculty from each school as well as Guildhall and Faculty Senate; representatives of the SMU libraries and the provost’s office; and Jason Warner, leader of the Academic Technology Team within OIT. The newly elected council chair is James Quick, associate vice president for research, dean of graduate studies and professor of earth sciences.

The council will serve as a primary steward of SMU’s academic technology strategy. Academic leaders serving on the Council will maintain an understanding of the academic technology needs of their school or organization while also advocating for technologies that enhance the capabilities of the University as a whole. Key responsibilities of members include providing input to the annual update of their school or unit’s academic technology strategy, helping to prioritize academic computing projects, providing input to service levels, advocating for SMU’s IT users, and serving as an ambassador to OIT.

“I’m excited about the opportunity this new council creates,” said Warner. “It will provide a direct voice for faculty and every academic unit in setting mandates for IT on campus and in making recommendations for IT strategies that best serve University priorities. The council’s support and input will be invaluable in making decisions about campus technology.”

The members of the council are Amit Basu, Cox; Katherine Engel, Tom Fomby and Elfi Kraka, Dedman; Mark Nausha, Guildhall; Nathan Cortez, Dedman Law; Halit Uster, Lyle; David Sedman, Meadows; Anthony Cuevas, Simmons; Theodore Walker, Perkins Theology; Sreekumar Bhaskaran, Faculty Senate; Mary Boyd, libraries; and James Quick, provost’s office.

“Our council members will talk to faculty within their individual schools about their tech needs, and also talk to peers at other universities about their IT functions to gain outside perspectives,” said Dean Quick. “They’ll collect and prioritize recommendations for technology projects that will be best for SMU, and provide open and honest feedback to OIT staff. Together with Jason and the rest of the IT team, we will work to find the best possible solutions to the tech needs of our academic departments.”

For more information, visit the OIT Governance page.

News OE2C

Sustaining The Change: The Future of OE2C

6801852981_c3ac4b7739_zThe work of Bain & Company with the Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) project concluded in September, and the University is now beginning a new phase in its goal to secure long-term economic vitality. As it charts its own course for the future, SMU will continue to implement initiatives begun over the past year, and will soon establish “continuous improvement” teams to examine other ways – suggested by staff, faculty and students – to improve administrative functions and reallocate funds to the academic mission.

The campus efforts to date have already resulted in significant change to the way SMU does business and almost $11 million in savings, noted SMU President Gerald Turner. “The process of change has not been easy, but I greatly appreciate the ongoing dedication of the campus community as we continue to see it through,” he said. “The improvements made to date, along with those still to come, will allow SMU to meet its strategic goals, focus new resources on our academic mission and put us on secure footing for the future amid the changing national landscape for higher education.”

Initiatives undertaken over the past year and a half have offered new academic opportunities. For example, using reallocated funds, the University has provided increased, round-the-clock access to ManeFrame, one of the most powerful, high-performance computers in the U.S., enabling large-scale research opportunities for faculty and students.

SMU also has increased the number of Ph.D. students on campus with the new “University-wide Fellowship” program. The program allows for up to 15 high-achieving Ph.D. students in a variety of SMU’s 22 doctoral programs. More fellowships will be created in years to come.

But these steps are just the beginning toward the University’s goal to shape world-changers while staying financially viable, OE2C leaders said.

Julie Wiksten, associate vice president for Operational Excellence and director of the OE2C Office, said the SMU community should expect even more improvements in the years ahead as her office continues sifting through suggestions/ideas for operational improvements and implementing those that work.

More than 50 ideas submitted by staff, faculty and students are up for consideration, she said, adding that some already have been implemented.

“Others will be addressed by small teams who will be tasked with making recommendations after doing research and due diligence,” Wiksten said. “That may mean researching best practices, holding focus groups, conducting surveys, etc.”

These new continuous improvement teams will begin their work after the first of the year to allow thorough, successful implementation of initiatives already in progress.

The OE2C Office will be responsible for reporting key metrics related to both major initiatives and continuous improvement projects. “Dashboards” are under development to add to the OE2C website to help “track progress and address issues as they arise,” Wiksten said. A financial savings tracker – showing how operational funds were saved and redirected toward the academic mission – was recently added to the website and will be updated to demonstrate ongoing progress

The OE2C Council, comprising faculty and staff representatives from schools and units, will continue to serve as a communications forum for OE2C, Wiksten said. The council will meet periodically to get updates and share issues they may hear in their workplaces. And the OE2C website will remain an active outlet for FAQs, related news stories and general updates regarding various initiatives. It’s also a great way for the campus community to submit ideas and suggestions.

“We have made great progress toward our overall goal of reallocating $25-$35 million from administrative expense to our academic mission,” Wiksten said. “But we still have a long way to go. The OE2C Office exists in part to help keep our focus on making SMU a leader among academic institutions. We welcome the participation and ideas of staff, faculty and students to help make that happen.”

Have a suggestion or idea to share with OE2C? Submit it here.


SMU Travel, Simplified


The basic process, approval for your trip, booking transportation and lodging and creating your expense report, is outlined below. If you have any questions, please email us at

Approval – Submit a travel request through Concur:

· The org owner approves travel requests in advance.
· A travel request provides a reasonable estimate of the full cost of the trip, including transportation, lodging and meals.
· Remember to make a note of the request ID for future use during the booking process.
· Look for an email confirming when the travel request has been approved.

Book – your travel through Concur:

• Select air, hotel and rental car options.
• Look for travel options that include a green icon that indicates the rates are within policy.
• For a quick five-minute tutorial, visit this page.

Create – a travel expense report:

· When the trip is complete, create a travel expense report to document expenses charged to your SMU Card or to request reimbursement.
· Use your phone to take pictures of receipts to upload to Concur.
· Match expenses and receipts to create a report.
· Submit the report for approval and reimbursement.

Detailed – instructions (web demonstrations, screen shots, step-by-step instructions) can be found here.


News OE2C

Ideas Turn Into OE2C Initiatives

ideas-stockWhen SMU asks staff, faculty and students to share ideas on ways to help the University operate more efficiently, it’s not just for show. Some of the suggestions and observations already offered up are on their way to being implemented under SMU’s OE2C initiative.

Since last fall, “more than 50 ideas have been submitted to the OE2C Office. This is in addition to ideas that were offered and discussed during interviews with staff, faculty and administrators last summer,” says Julie Wiksten, associate vice president for Operational Excellence. “Many of the ideas last summer became part of our major initiatives.”

Other ideas that were received “are being explored and may be recommended for Continuous Improvement projects. This will be a major ongoing focus of the OE2C Office,” Wiksten says.

Chris Smith, who works in SMU’s Office of Information and Technology, submitted a cost-savings suggestion to OE2C. He suggested changing the thermostat-controlled temperature set point in SMU buildings after experiencing a chilly 68-degree temperature in his office last April while outside temps were in the high 70s.

“Most employees adjusted by wearing more clothes to work – sweaters, jackets – although it was a near-summer temperature outside,” Smith says. “This led me to think – wouldn’t it save money and wouldn’t everyone be more comfortable if we could wear the same clothes inside and outside?”

Then it hit him: If the University were better at determining those times of year when inside and outside temperatures could be equalized, it would save in heating and cooling costs. He researched the idea, found support for it and submitted it.

Smith, who has worked at SMU for 22 years, says he was excited to learn OE2C was implementing his idea. “From what I read (when researching it), I believe it will save a good amount of money. Plus, our students and staff may be more comfortable indoors,” he says.

Cheryl Cothrum, an accountant in the Dedman School of Law business office, says it’s “great to know the University is listening to suggestions and implementing them.”

Like Smith, Cothrum also submitted a cost-saving idea to OE2C. She suggested eliminating a lengthy long-distance call log distributed monthly to campus offices.

“I’d receive the 3- to 4-inch document through campus mail every month, look it over to see if any faculty or staff owed money for personal calls, make copies, distribute the copies, then file it,” she says. “With everything going digital, I’ve felt for several years that the University could streamline the distribution of the long-distance bill — either by emailing or putting it on a shared drive.”

It’ll save time and money for SMU, she says.

“I’m not sure how much it saves the University in time and print cost, but I know every penny counts,” she adds. “I’m very frugal in my home life, so I guess that overflows to my work home.”

Ideas like Smith’s and Cothrum’s are exactly what the OE2C team will continue to look for, Wiksten says.

“We want your ideas,” she adds enthusiastically. “We welcome them from faculty, staff and students. And they don’t have to be ‘fully thought-out’ — they can just be suggestions or observations.’”